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How to Choose Colour

How Influenced are you by Colour Names?

By 03/10/2011January 27th, 201737 Comments

People often ask me ‘who names the colours in a fan deck’?  Quite often in a colour consultation when we’re looking at 2 colours and both are equally as good because they are so close, sometimes the name of the colours decides it for us. Doesn’t San Francisco Bay (BM802) sound like a pretty blue?  How about HC-80 Bleeker Beige? Is that colour bleak?  Not if you are using it in a room with green/brown undertones.

Pat Verlodt contributes to the blog Color Maniacs. She has been in the colour industry for over 40 years and I have had the pleasure of being her room mate at the last two Colour Marketing Group Conferences as well as working with her on a project with a paint company last summer. I decided it was high time I introduced her blog to you.

Who is the Crazy Person who names all these Colours?  I can just hear her saying that, she is so passionate about what she does! In this post she gives us the inside scoop on what it looks like to be in charge of naming colours for fan decks.

Back to you, have you ever chosen a colour based solely on the name?  Do share.

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact me.

Related posts:
What Everyone Should know about Fan Decks
What’s an Undertone?
How to Choose Colours that Sell for your Jewelry/Pottery/Crafts
What Everyone Should know about Gray

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  • Arne Salvesen says:

    It's the same for laminate colours. Two of my favorites: Pionite's "Gin Joint in Casablanca" and "Sipping Seattle Java."

  • Luciane at says:

    Hello Maria,

    It's so true I agree with you… the name can influence a little, but I wouldn't CHOOSE a color based on the name alone.

    Have a great day!


    Luciane at

  • Laura Trevey says:

    Great question: Who names all of these colors!!!


  • Anne says:

    Nope, paint names mean nothing to me, although they are easier to remember than paint numbers.

  • A Perfect Gray says:

    ahhh yes! I try NOT to look at the names, thinking I will be swayed by a great name. Same with clothes. I try NOT to look at the faces of the models, for fear I will think, 'if I buy that outfit, I will look just like HER!' Ha!

  • pve design says:

    yes, I admit to being guilty from falling for a color for the name.

  • Design Elements says:

    interesting question: who named the colors. A friend of mine thought the person behind the blog Kelly Green is actually someone named Kelly Green 🙂

  • Donna says:

    Maria, Thank you for this fun post chat! I agree with Pat that no client would enjoy describing their fabulous new paint color in their house as 226-FE or whatever.

    I love the colors you chose for my house (and I have to admit the names do add SOooo much romance!) Bavarian Cream, Sonata Blue, and Corn Husk Green (my favorite!) sound so much more exciting than BEHR 530E-3,350E-1, and 340E-3.
    How inspiring would that list be? Not.. LoL!

    Loved reading how Pat gets her family and friends involved in choosing hundreds of names at times(as a party). OMG that would be such an exhausting task! But in some ways, it would be fun too. I love how she uses baby name books, nature books, and atlas's and such to find good names.
    Wounded Knee and Pond Scum sound awfully scary for blue or green. I can see why she didn't use those.Ha!

    Now if they used Bleeker Beige for the gorgeous bedroom you pictured here, I think I'd ignore the name and go for the color! So pretty!
    Fun post!

  • Erin @ The Impatient Gardener says:

    I am so influenced by names that I make a concerted effort NOT to look at color names when I'm choosing. It can be a make or break deal for me. For instance, I still think that Mayonnaise is probably a lovely color but based on the name alone I could never use it.

  • Kathysue says:

    Maria, When I did a color consult with a client I would purposely hide the name, because I did not want a pre-conceived idea of what the color would look like to them. I once had a client that was so deathly afraid of pink that she actually saw pink in a pattern that was green, I knew there was no helping her after that one. Too funny. I find the names fun and interesting, always have, but they do not influence me as far as the selection process goes, I just find them interesting, KS

  • Bruce Barone says:

    Somewhat; but we still did paint tests.

    Dining Room: Get Back Jack from C2Paint, i.e. think black cherry soda.

    Sitting Room: Garam Masala from C@Paint; just what it says it is.

  • Leah says:

    Before we were married, my husband picked his living room color because it was called something like Isle of Capri. He had been there and loved it so he picked the color. I'm sure the Island was beautiful, but the color was very overwhelming!

    The room was adjacent to a burgundy colored hallway that he also picked based on the name, but I forget what that one was called.

  • A Delightful Design says:

    I was deciding between two different blues for my nursery: Quiet Moments and Grand Rapids. They both would look great but since we live in Grand Rapids I just had to go with that!

  • Marlis says:

    Well…. maybe. I really do look at the color first…but just sometimes the name factor might play a role…..ouch that hurts even me!

  • Kristin says:

    I wouldn't necessarily choose paint color solely by the name, but I definitely choose nail polish colors that way. I especially like the OPI names, very fun!

  • Kendra says:

    On my last paint project (my daughter's nursery), I actually chose the paint in spite of its boring name. Of all the lovely, interesting paint names out there, the one that worked the best for me was… "Light Blue." Yawn. 🙂

  • Nan says:

    For our master bath (in old house) I chose the color first, then noticed the name "Fresh Day." When painting I thought it was 'off' but I couldn't change because I liked the name too much! And glad I stayed with it, I put it in this new house and it's perfect.

  • Ideezine says:


    Fun post I have always felt that if people were to learn about color numbers only they'd feel overwhelmed and fall asleep. The names add a little romance to the paint scene and that grabs their attention.

    Most paint contractors I've worked with go by number only…so I have to be very familiar with both number and name to work with contractor's and clients. For me it's the best of both worlds.


  • Pink Overalls says:

    As a painting contractor, I can tell you that more people than admit it are influenced by paint names. One client who was always dressed to the nines selected Sherwin Williams Rhinestone for her bedroom. Another client who had been in the Navy chose Honolulu blue for his sunroom.

    I always wanted the job of naming the colors so I could fly around the world to make sure that I was appropriately inspired!

    I still want that job.

  • Cherie says:

    Fan decks are great for writers — we love to play with names of colors, all the different names of colors for green, for example. But I wouldn't select colors for my walls based on the names of colors. A friend of ours, who happens to be a contractor, is really offended by the name "builder beige." He claims he chooses the color of beige he uses very carefully even though everyone and their cousin seems to choose the same color for spec homes. "Spec" homes I object to –not everyone can afford "custom"!

  • Shannon says:

    I just painted my great room Benjamin Moore, OC-10 White Sand. I'm a beach volleyball player so maybe that's why I picked this one? By the way, I love your blog! I have learned so much from you and I have so much more to learn. Thank you for sharing your expertise. I too am a Chardonay drinker.

  • Marcus Design says:

    Just had to pop by Maria and say a big thank you to you for your kind comment and tweeting my Ikea dresser project!! I very much appreciate it!
    Nancy xo

  • Cindy says:

    I saw a color named "Skinned Knee" – and it was the exact color of a little kid's skinned knee. Pretty color – awful name! (but then again, I remember it from 10 years ago so maybe it was a smart name choice!)

  • GBC Style says:

    Funny, I wondered too. F&B has a color named Dead Salmon. I used it once in the entry to a small farm house circa 1840ish and it was so depressing, it needed to go. Should have realized from it's name. Thanks for you blog, enjoy reading it. G

  • Cara says:

    I have always wondered who gets to name paint colors, often they have the most creative names! I have a question for you, completely un-related to this post (I've been reading your blog for hours and it has been extremely helpful). The main living area of my house is painted BM Alaskan Skies- 972. In your opinion, is this a greeny beige? Would this completely clash with yellow and brown tones? I am starting from scratch on decorating a family room in my basement and wondered if you had any suggestions on some color groups that would match Alaskan Skies (for furniture, flooring, etc.).

    One more question: I love, love, love BM Monroe Bisque color. As I was looking on the Benjamin Moore website color viewer, it said, "goes great with" Alaskan Skies. I realize this is only computer-generated. In your opinion do these 2 paint colors go together? Thanks for any information you can give! I wish I did not live thousands of miles away from you!

  • Bruce Barone says:

    P.S. Our bedroom is Benjamin Moore "Winding Vines;" a name I also like 🙂

  • Linda Pakravan says:

    I've had more than one client get excited about a color based on its name — and a few that rejected colors solely because of the name. Right now I really like F&B's "Skylight". The name and the color!

  • Pangaea Interior Design, Portland says:

    Color names can be a blessing and a curse at the same time. They do help people remember colors and be inspired. But I often have to ask clients to ignore a color name, like when I specified Benjamin Moore Sabre Gray for the blue they wanted. Or like when I was specifying exterior color for a home being put up for sale and I chose Benjamin Moore Gargoyle for the body and Dragon's Breath for the front door. The broker's eyes went wide and he asked me please not to tell the seller the color names. I don't know what's wrong with that — a man's home is his castle, right?

    Actually, I think Donald Kaufman has the right idea not to name the colors at all. Then the color just has to be whatever it looks like to you in your home. I do think too many people rely on the name to tell them what the color is and end up unhappy when it is up on their walls.

  • Anonymous says:

    I thought you'd never ask . . . when deciding between 2 colours, the name I like better ALWAYS is chosen. I prefer numbers to names from paint colors to cars. I love my home, it's location, etc. but the street name bothers me. When beige is already such a "touchy" colour, why would anyone name one of the shades Bleeker Beige? I sure hope they haven't named a color Bleeker Grey.

  • Tricia says:

    I am intrigued by color names and sometimes when I like a color I have to work to override the fact that I don't like it's name. I painted my living room over 12 years ago and still love it today. It is called Sludge. On the other hand my foyer was painted Salsa. I loved the name and the color. One thing I know for sure, I would never remember a color by it's number but I still remember the bathroom I painted Beach Glass.

  • roomrefiner says:

    The names mean a lot to many of my clients. When we look at colours and the name has a special meaning to them or sounds great, they seem to love it more. However, the wrong name, even if the colour is right, can really be a turn-off. I do like the numbers but the names help when looking at a variety of colours during one consultation.

  • Casey Craig Art says:

    I would not let the name of a color influence whether I used it in my home. I do use a lot of color names for the titles in my paintings and put a great deal of thought into it and how it sounds. I have noticed that some paint names evoke nothing of the actual color.

  • Dale at Hospitality Design Inspirations says:

    Unfortunately I do let colour names affect my selections sometimes. Especially if I'm questioning my selection. I look over and read the name, and if it sounds like something completely opposite of the feel I'm going for, I usually try to find another colour. It's a funny thing. Thanks for bringing this up!

  • The Shade Shop, Inc. says:

    I have always imagined a group of designers, with a good sense of humor, getting together in the evening hours with some great bottles of wine and spending the night til the wee morning hours laying out colors and naming them. Getting more slap-happy and sleep deprived, they start to throw out names like Gargoyle, Squirrel Tail, Raccoon Hollow, and Dragon's Breath. Color is still the most important factor…the name just lends a smile!

  • Catherine says:

    I'm guessing that most people are strongly affected by the names when they're choosing colors. I was born in Newport, RI but grew up elsewhere since my dad was in the navy, and colors with "Newport" or "New England" in the name always give me a feeling of nostalgia. That's such a strong draw!

    This reminds me of when Honeysuckle was announced as color of the year. It seemed like–for the first few weeks at least–no one was talking about the color. Everyone was just freaking out about how the name was inappropriate because honeysuckles are yellowish. Maybe it's like Hollywood: any publicity is good publicity?

  • traci zeller designs says:

    I don't really get worked up about color names, BUT it was a little bit icky to end up using the Benjamin Moore color Smoke (which I LOVE) in a client's master bedroom … when the reason they were repainting the whole house is that they had had a fire! We did it anyway, though. 😉

  • Donna says:

    PS. That idea of curtains to give the feel of a window was my mom's favorite decorating trick! And a whole wall with a curtain across it is so elegant. We, mom and I, were doing a 'room makeover' for Rebekah..she wanted it to feel like a castle. So we bought a 1 x 1 the length of the room, installed eye bolts all the way across. Then we mounted it to the support beams in the wall and hung gorgeous drapes from it. Rebekah was entranced! It added quite a luxurious feel to the room.

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